Social Work Services Strategic Forum minutes: June 2017

Minutes from the June 2017 meeting of the Social Work Services Strategic Forum (SWSSF).

Attendees and apologies


  • Iona Colvin (Chair in place of Minister), Chief Social Work Adviser, SG
  • Annie Gunner Logan, CCPS
  • Susan Taylor, Social Work Scotland
  • Helen Happer, Care Inspectorate
  • Trisha Hall, SASW
  • Rikke Iversholt, IRISS
  • Claire Lightowler, Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice
  • Caroline Johnstone, Cosla
  • Trish McCulloch, HEIs Representative/Dundee University
  • Kerry Morgan, Community Justice, SG - for Linda Pollock
  • Christina Naismith, Integration SG - for Geoff Huggins/Jamie MacDougall
  • Jacqui Lunday Johnstone, Allied Health Professionals Unit, SG

Guest Presenter

  • David Scott, Community Justice Scotland
  • Liza McLean, Head of eHealth Strategy and Policy, SG


  • Jane Johnstone, Professional Social Work Adviser, SG
  • Catherine Whitaker, OCSWA intern, SG


  • Jane Mackenzie, OCSWA, SG
  • Shona MacPherson, OCSWA, SG


  • Anna Fowlie, SSSC
  • Jane Devine, Social Work Scotland
  • Michelle Miller, SOLACE
  • Donald Macaskill, Scottish Care
  • Shirley Rogers, Director, Health Workforce SG
  • Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome, introductions and apologies

Iona welcomed everyone to the meeting, noting the Minister’s apologies and that she would be Chair for this meeting. She also said that she was pleased to be at the Forum for the first time in her new role as Chief Social Work Adviser to the Scottish Government. She noted that an updated membership list and Terms of Reference for the Forum had been circulated with the meeting papers. Any comments on these or suggested additional members to the Forum should be sent to OCSWA as soon as possible so that they can be made final for 2017/18.

Post meeting note – Annie Gunner Logan emailed to suggest that Dr Sally Witcher, Chief Executive of Inclusion Scotland should be invited to join the Forum as she is well connected to various external networks and groups where she is able to bring a broad view from the user perspective. Assuming no dissenting view from other Forum members, OCSWA will follow-up on this.

2. Note of previous meeting - 7 March 2017

The note was agreed without any amendments. All actions had either been completed, were on the Agenda or would be brought to a future Forum meeting.


Promoting Public Understanding

3. Research Project on Public Understanding of Social Services – Paper 1

Trish McCulloch presented the findings from the research into Public Understanding of Social Services. The full report had been sent out with the meeting papers. This research was commissioned on behalf of the Forum to support implementation of the actions in the Vision and Strategy.

Points made in discussion

  • This is just a snapshot of present opinion, more regular studies would be required in order to have an understanding of how perceptions might shift.

  • It was noted that this was the first study of this kind in Scotland to look at the whole social services sector. Further work would be required if it was thought useful to look at differences in perception about the different parts of the sector.

  • It was noted that opinions could differ depending on which kinds of service people had accessed.

  • In undertaking the research it had been relatively easy to access and engage with people who had used services but was more difficult to engage with those who hadn’t.

  • It was noted that with the third sector organisations there is an issue around the public’s possible lack of understanding of the social care market and their awareness that this is a market.

  • In some ways the debate has moved on from public understanding to public involvement and participation. This also links to the evidence workstrand and the need for more practice based evidence of how we can work with people to design services.

  • Also need more dialogue around working with people around their lived experience. Helen Happer noted links with relevant Care Inspectorate work on considering user surveys.

  • It was noted that the findings also have relevance for issues around recruitment and how the sector perceives itself. Need to pick up the positive messages from the findings and think about how to share this more widely across the sector.

  • Also noted that there is merit in thinking about how we get better at understanding of what it is like to be on the receiving end of services.

  • We need to now understand the “so what does this mean”? Need to think about what the findings mean for the next stage of the Strategy and the actions under the public understanding workstream.

  • There was general agreement that we need a communication and engagement plan for the research findings as there are many positive messages in it for the workforce. How do we unpick the key messages and disseminate?

  • The Forum agreed that when the research is published it would be useful to add in a short foreword which states the Forums response to the findings and what it will now do with the findings. This will also be an opportunity to reinforce the positive messages we want to attach to the research.

  • Trish noted that there was merit in considering a more user friendly format for the reports main findings. Post meeting note - IRISS have since offered their assistance with this.

In summing up Iona noted three main areas that the Public Understanding Working Group should now consider to build on and make use of the research:

1. Public participation, link the findings to other public surveys and the user surveys undertaken by or available to the Care Inspectorate (liaise with Helen Happer)

2. Public understanding of how social services are delivered, and the lack of understanding around how the systems work – how do we better explain what is available/delivered to the public?

3. What do the findings mean for the image of the sector, how do we link this to their resilience and to issue around recruitment and retention? Important to share the positive findings with the workforce.


The Public Understanding Working Group (chair: Jane Devine) to :

  • draft a response/foreword on behalf of the Forum which can go at the beginning of the Report and agree it by correspondence as soon as possible.

  • work with the research leads to agree a date for final publication (on the Forum papers web page) and develop a communication strategy for the research findings.

  • consider the report and the above discussion points in order to agree what the next steps for this action strand will be and report back to September Forum meeting on the way forward.

4. Scottish Social Services Awards and Social Services Expo

Shona MacPherson provided a brief update on both events due to take place on 13th June 2017 at Crieff Hydro. She:

  • thanked all Forum members and their nominated colleagues who had been involved in the various Judging Panels for helping get the process to this stage.

  • thanked those Forum members delivering a workshop at Expo and also those who had been assiduous in getting out the publicity to the workforce. She noted that there was still space available and asked all members to continue to promote the event as widely as possible through their networks.

  • noted that both events will have feedback processes to contribute to the evaluation and lessons learned exercises which will take place and that Forum members are welcome to feed comments directly back to her as well if they wish.


  • Shona to provide paper with feedback reports and recommendations on the future of both events for consideration at the September Forum meeting.


5. Draft refreshed Implementation Plan : April 2017 onwards – Paper 2

Jane Mackenzie talked through the draft implementation Plan for April 2017 onwards which had been circulated with the meeting papers. She noted the approach taken to identify continuing, amended and new actions. A number of specific observations were made in relation to possible bringing together of some of the actions. Jane will take these on board and produce a final refreshed Implementation Plan for circulation before the September Forum meeting.

Points raised in discussion

  • It was noted that work is ongoing on the National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan and that the social care chapter of this is due in the autumn. The findings of the recruitment and retention research commissioned by the Forum will be useful to feed into this.

  • Action 4 – equality and diversity, Helen Happer to see if Care Inspectorate collect information on this.

  • Action 7 – commissioning and procurement. Agreed it would be useful to have this as an agenda item for the September Forum to update on progress

  • It was noted that it would be useful to have time at a future Forum to discuss workforce learning etc. Iona suggested that a short note of the key issues around workforce development would be useful, linking this with support for multi-disciplinary teams and the support they require.

  • Evidence actions – need to better link practice to evidence and research. How do we imbed improvement into peoples day to day jobs? Also need to better collate the examples of good practice that are around.


  • Forum members to provide any final observations on the draft refreshed Implementation Plan to OCSWA by 6th July.

  • Action strand leads to work with OCSWA to follow up on the discussion points


6. Community Justice Scotland

David Scott gave an update on progress with the establishment of Community Justice Scotland. A first draft of the Training Needs Analysis has been produced which looks at both current and future aspirational training needs, building on what is already in place. Recruitment about to commence of learning and innovation officers.

Points made in the Discussion:

  • Susan noted the difference between “training” and “learning and development” in the workplace and the need to ensure that the national picture fits with the local context.


  • David to send the draft Training Needs Analysis via OCSWA to Forum members and would welcome any feedback or comments.

7. Digital Health and Care Strategy

Liza McLean outlined the work on developing a Digital Health and Care Strategy which links with the Health & Social Care Delivery Plan and is focussed on putting digital at the heart of transforming services to make sure they are more person centred. She also noted links with Local Government Digital Officer, Cosla and the Improvement Service. Liza noted that she was pleased to be able to speak to the Forum at the start of the engagement process. She also said that her team is keen to hear what are the relevant issues across the social services sector and to speak to people about how the Strategy might be able to help. In particular they are keen to explore:

* inter-operability and standards so services could be shared
* more common approaches
* skills and confidence of the workforce in working digitally
* digital leadership
* the service user voice – are there opportunities to look at how digital might improve their experience

Points made in the Discussion:

  • Iona noted that there was a lot of good work around digital at a local level. It was also suggested that there would be merit in linking with Integration Joint Boards – Christina Naismith would be a good liaison point for this.

  • The need for better information systems and information sharing systems was noted as a critical issue.

  • Annie noted that the third sector is working with care providers on related issues and that Nancy Fancott at CCPS would be a good contact to speak to.

  • The importance of services being front facing was also noted, how do we use digital to access services better and to intervene earlier?

  • It was also suggested that making the link with out of hours work would be useful.


  • Liza to circulate membership of Strategic Oversight Group to Forum members via OCSWA.

  • Social Work Scotland to confirm who will be on the Group for their interest.

  • All Forum members to follow up with Liza if they would like to be more engaged with this area of development.

8. Future Meeting Dates for 2017

Shona noted that future meeting dates would be moved back to Tuesdays as this would suit more members. She will be in touch with revised dates for September and December – note these have now been agreed as follows:

  • Tuesday 12 September, 10.00-12.00
  • Tuesday 12 December, 10.00-12.00

Venue to be notified but it will be Edinburgh

Back to top